You Did It.
You, Team SkyCube, have outdone yourselves. Not only did you meet our original $82.5K funding goal, you surpassed our stretch goal of $110K.
Everyone knows Neil Armstrong's most famous quote. But here's something else he said: "Science has not yet mastered prophecy. We predict too much for the next year and yet far too little for the next 10."
We have an opportunity to prove him right once again. This kickstarter campaign has only been the beginning - but it's already proven that we can reach farther than any of us might have dreamt, and that we can get there by sharing the challenge together.
This page will now be archived and frozen on kickstarter's servers, but you can find further SkyCube project updates and news on our continuing project URL:
Thanks again for your support. It's been a privilege to build the future with you.
-Tim, Chris, Kevin, Tyler, Mark, Joe, David, David, Rouslan, Matt, Scott, and the rest of Team SkyCube
The Next Frontier: SkyCube Squared
As of August 30th, 2012, we are annoucing a new stretch goal of $110,000. The additional funds will be used to build a second copy of SkyCube, in case of launch vehicle failure or (much better) to let everyone take even more pictures and send more messages from space!
We have 7 days left to do this. Failure is not an option! And if you're new to this project, here's what it's all about:
We want to create a space exploration experience that can be shared by everyone - including you!
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SkyCube in the News
September 5th: SkyCube stars in ABC News' story on Do-It-Yourself Satellites.
September 2nd: The front page of the San Francisco Chronicle business section announces SkyCube is a small crowdfunded satellite!
August 24th: The Huffington Post proclaims: SkyCube Sets a Precedent for future CubeSat missions!
August 22nd: SocialPixels.tv interviews SkyCube's founder on host Curtis Hollister's Crowded Places segment.
August 16th - Click Here to read MacDirectory's interview with Tim for the story about how SkyCube came to be.
George Takei - Captain Sulu on Star Trek, and the King of Facebook - has endorsed SkyCube:
IDG News has covered SkyCube! Click here for the story, or the image below for the video:
[Note: since this footage was taken, we've gotten the radio working! Click here for a video demo.]
Who Are We? And What is SkyCube?
We're the makers of the SkySafari astronomy apps for iOS, Android, and Mac OS X, and the SkyFi wireless telescope controller. With our mobile apps, we've revolutionized the way people observe the night sky. Now, we want to do for space exploration what we've done for amateur astronomy.
We are developing a nano-satellite, and mobile apps to go with it, as the focus for a global education and public outreach campaign. The satellite, called SkyCube, is a 10x10x10 cm "1U" CubeSat intended for launch as a secondary payload on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in 2013. Orbiting more than 300 miles up, on a path highly inclined to the Earth's equator, SkyCube will pass over most of the world's inhabited regions.
SkyCube will take low-resolution pictures of the Earth and broadcast simple messages uploaded by sponsors. After 90 days, it will use an 8-gram CO2 cartridge to inflate a 10-foot (3-meter) diameter balloon coated with highly reflective titanium dioxide powder. SkyCube's balloon will make the satellite as bright as the Hubble Space Telescope or a first-magnitude star. You'll be able to see it with your own eyes, sailing across the sky. But SkyCube's balloon isn't just for visibility. It will - within 3 weeks - bring SkyCube down from orbit due to atmospheric drag, ending the mission cleanly in a fiery "grand finale" that avoids any buildup of space debris.
SkyCube: Your Eye in the Sky
SkyCube won't just let you broadcast messages from space. It will also let you look back at the Earth from orbit. You can request images from the satellite using our smartphone or web app. SkyCube's images will be transmitted to our ground stations when the satellite passes over them - and then forwarded to you across the internet. You might just see your entire state (or country!) in one image from space, or catch a sunrise from orbit. Capture hurricanes, oil spills, and other continent-wide phenomena from more than 300 miles up. Here's what you might see:
You can even take pictures with SkyCube's cameras at night! Here are some real pictures, taken with a real SkyCube camera, from an airplane over San Francisco at night. A little processing greatly enhances the raw image:
The International Dark-Sky Association has expressed an interest in using SkyCube to map out light pollution on the Earth's night side. You might also use SkyCube to capture lightning, auroras, and other night-time phenomena from space.
How You Can Talk With SkyCube
The mission will utilize a 915 MHz CubeSat ground station communication network operated by the US Navy, the Boeing Corporation, and the University of Utah. During ground station passes, the satellite will transmit images to the network, which are then forwarded via internet to sponsors who have requested them from our iOS, Android, and web apps.
The satellite will also broadcast sponsors' messages every 10 seconds as data pings - "tweets from space" - detectable by anyone with inexpensive amateur radio equipment. We'll even provide such a radio to our $1000 (and higher) sponsors! However, you won't need anything more than an internet-connected smartphone or web browser to receive messages from SkyCube. They will be archived on our server and accessible from anywhere on the internet.
Here are some examples of possible SkyCube "tweets":
- "Peace on Earth to All People"
- "Happy Birthday Ev, April 27, 2013 - year of the SkyCube"
- "Marry me, my darling THX1138!"
- "Tom: call me when you get this."
- "I went to space and back - Joe Longo, April 2013"
- "If you can read this, then Earth survived the Mayan doomsday of 2012."
Who's Behind SkyCube
MacTech magazine has become our first $25K corporate sponsor, providing advertising, media, and outreach services for the SkyCube mission.
We also welcome The Social Media Monthly, our second major sponsor, who will be providing regular updates on our progress throughout the development of the mission.
Education and advertising opportunities abound at all phases of the mission - you can even put your logo on the balloon! Contact us for details.
We have contracted with experienced CubeSat developers Kevin Brown and Tyler Rose of Astronautical Development, LLC to build our satellite and its radio. Kevin's CubeSat radios have a track record of 100% success, and four of them are actually operating in orbit right now.
SkyCube's space balloon and its CO2 inflation mechanism are being built by Global Western, an experienced manufacturer of aerostats and high-altitude weather balloons. Global Western has built multiple balloons over a million cubic feet of displacement for NASA, JPL, and other clients from Spain, France, Germany, UK, South Africa, and the USA.
Our launch provider is SpaceX - the only private company to have flown to and from the International Space Station. We've already signed a contract with SpaceX's secondary payload integrator, Spaceflight Services, to test, manifest, and launch SkyCube in 2013.
We ourselves will develop server infrastructure and mobile/web apps for sponsors to follow the mission. Our plan has already won a top award at the Funders & Founders venture capital forum in San Francisco!
Sponsorship opportunities begin at $1, and are open to anyone with a smartphone. Sponsors may follow the satellite across the sky, upload messages for it to re-broadcast, and request Earth images from the satellite, using their smartphone or browser. Our highest-value sponsors will get a trip to Cape Canaveral to see the launch - and a chance to operate the satellite for a full day in orbit!
Science with SkyCube
SkyCube will provide an unprecedented opportunity for millions of sponsors worldwide to participate in a shared space exploration experience. SkyCube will be the first satellite "owned" by everyone. Like Sputnik did 50 years ago, SkyCube will boost interest in astronomy, space exploration, and science education for an entire new generation of explorers around the world. We hope you'll help us make it happen!
SkyCube is - first and foremost - a mission of education and public outreach. But it also might just produce some real science. Here are some of the non-profit organizations who expressed an interested in working with SkyCube from a scientific and educational perspective:
Astronomers Without Borders, in fact, is accepting SkyCube sponsorships on our behalf, using PayPal, for potential sponsors who might not have Amazon accounts. Pass the word along!
Since you've made it to the end of our presentation, here's a (mostly irrelevant) space treat:
After it's all said and done ... it ain't worth doin' if you're not having fun!
- (60 days)